When we first opened our studio, Steve and I had just come from a whirlwind of success performing all over the world and receiving accolades from all corners. We thought that because of our experience as performers and the fact that we had taught other professionals and advanced students during those years that it would be more than enough to persuade people to bring their children to us at our school. Maybe it did help in some ways but we certainly had to come to grips with the reality that most people really don't care that much about what you have done it is more about, 'what can you do for me?'
Our training and performance experience have definitely benefited our students once they are studying at our studio because those experiences that we went through help us to give valuable lessons to our students, but the question is, how can we deal with the competition in our area and how can we get prospective customers to understand why they should choose our studio over a competitors. It was an enlightening experience when some years ago we gave all of our current customers a questionnaire to find out what they liked or disliked about our studio and what they felt were the most important factors to them from 1-10. We made it easy for them and had a list of 10 things with multiple choice answers. We wanted to know what importance they put on faculty credentials and the 'fun' aspect of the classes. If convenience was a major factor and what they thought about our facility. There were other questions about the amount of classes available to them etc. but the reason I am talking about this is that when we looked at all of the completed ones the overriding top scores were for convenience and fun. Yes they wanted to know that the teachers and staff were competent but most importantly the parents wanted to know that we were going to make it as convenient as possible for them and as fun as we could make it for their children. I can tell you that this was certainly an eye opener for us at the time and made us realize how important it is for us to really look at our studios as a business and not just something that we love to do. It is easy for us as dance teachers to fall into that trap of drifting through each day teaching classes because we feel that we should share our gift and not think of it as a profession that we need to receive adequate compensation for. There is no shame to making money as a studio owner, we provide an important service to families in our area and if along the way we can make some excellent dancers then that is terrific because that part of our work will give us tremendous satisfaction but our bread and butter is with all the other students that will pass through our doors.
When someone walks through the doors of your studio they will usually decide in a matter of moments whether or not they are going to bring their child to your studio. They will immediately look around them to see what kind of feeling they have about your place. Are the vibes good? Do the students look happy? Is there a welcoming feeling from the staff? These are all important first impressions to them. Once they feel good about their initial feelings then they will be receptive to hearing about all the terrific things that your studio is able to offer them. Let your prospective customer know that you and your staff and faculty have a passion for what you do. Let them know about your experience and expertise in a short concise way and then move on to what they really want to hear, how you can enrich the life of their child and help them to succeed and be confident and have masses of self esteem and in what way can you make their life as a parent easier and more convenient.
Let them know why they should choose you over the studio down the street. How are you different? What can you offer the student that the others cannot and how can you make the whole process as seamless as possible for the parent? Everyone wants to know, 'What can you do for me?' and it is important to let any prospective customer understand that you are there for them in as many ways as possible to help their child have a fantastic time in a nurturing environment and to help them gain the confidence that they are going to need in whatever field they ultimately choose to go into.
Perhaps you are just starting out as a studio owner and the staff and faculty is just you! In that case you need to write down all of the things that you have done that you feel would be important for a customer to know about you and all of the reasons why they should choose your studio. Whatever you come up with you then need to find a way cut it down to a short 2 minute presentation that you can give to anyone coming through your doors and looking for dance classes. Keep it short and sweet. Something that will grab the attention of the parent and convey who you are and what your studio can offer. Include everything that will make attending your studio a fantastic experience for both the student and their family. If you are an established studio and have staff, make sure that they are trained to give their version of the same speech. It is important that everyone that works for you is on the same page. We all know that word of mouth is our most effective marketing tool but the more we improve how we sell to not only prospective customers but also to our current ones the more successful our studio will be.